Spirit AeroSystems Belfast is to lead the Team MOSQUITO project, comprising Spirit Belfast, Northrop Grumman and Intrepid Minds, on further development of the Royal Air Force’s (“RAF”) Lightweight Affordable Novel Combat Aircraft (LANCA) concept to full demonstration capability.

The project will initially support more than 100 STEM jobs at Spirit Belfast’s facility and the project has the potential to sustain further expertise in the wider UK supply chain. The team will utilise agile design principles, digital applications and advanced manufacturing skills to generate knowledge and evidence for a potential follow-on project. Findings could lead to the capability being deployed by the RAF to enhance protection, survivability and information advantage to aircrews.

Lightweight vehicle will be capable of uncrewed flight

Spirit Belfast will draw on its expertise in advanced composite manufacturing solutions, adapting its award-winning resin transfer infusion technology to produce a lightweight vehicle capable of uncrewed, high-speed flight. The benefits of using extensive composite components, compared to all-aluminium aerostructures include both reduced maintenance and fuel consumption for aircraft operations.

Scott McLarty, Senior Vice-President of Spirit AeroSystems, Airbus Programs said: “Spirit Belfast is delighted to lead the delivery of a national programme enabling the development of cutting-edge technologies while maintaining critical skills in the UK. Supporting the MOD’s strategic objectives on pace, affordability and operational capacity, Team MOSQUITO will help drive collaborative innovation and competitive advantage. We are excited to develop this relationship with a view to contributing to a more sustainable industrial base for UK defence.”

In addition to the provision of systems engineering support, Northrop Grumman will supply its international DA/RC (Distributed Autonomy / Responsive Control) technologies, gateway offerings and advanced mesh networking capabilities to the aircraft. These enable seamless human-machine collaboration and cooperative mission management across distributed manned and unmanned assets.

“Dramatic” reduction in time required to build a flying demonstrator

“Our team will help deliver the required development cost and time savings by providing our expertise in Agile development and DevSecOps to enable a model-based, digital design approach,” added Katharine Sealy, Director of National Security Solutions, Northrop Grumman UK. “By applying modern software development practices to a digital engineering environment, we aim to dramatically reduce the time required to build a flying demonstrator while allowing for seamless integration of additional future capabilities.”

Intrepid Minds will cover the complete avionics system, power, lighting and integration with the ground control station. As part of this project, the company brings its own Adrestia system currently being deployed across the air, surface and subsurface domains. Having already integrated into many civil and defence systems, Intrepid Minds is using the speed of development to generate a cohesive structure across all partners and suppliers.

Intrepid Minds Managing Director, Adam Smith said: “As specialists in the unmanned and autonomous field, Intrepid Minds has a proven record in developing the art of the possible. Our ability to pull in the best technologies from suppliers and integrate them centrally with our Adrestia system and Spectre hardware can rapidly enhance a system of systems approach. We are delighted to be involved in developing potential UK sovereign capability in ways that could work across the services.”

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